Council Replaces Michael Allen Lente as President
During the final weeks of December 2014, Michael Allen Lente, President of the Isleta Tribal Council, refused to attend Council meetings along with Vice-President Larry Jaramillo. Without explanation, Lente also used his position as President to cancel meetings of the Council.
As a result, the Council was unable to conduct official business on behalf of the Tribe. So, on December 28, 2014, Council Members Joseph “Cougar” Lucero, Cynthia Jaramillo, Phillip Jiron and Ralph Douglas Jiron submitted a letter to President Lente requesting that he conduct a meeting of the Council.
The Isleta Tribal Constitution states:
“[t]he president of the council, or in his absence or incapacity, the vice-president, shall call meetings of the council at the request of the governor or at the request of any three (3) members of the council”1)Isleta Tribal Constitution, Art. V, Section 7.
However, when Council Members met on Friday, December 30, 2014, President Lente and Vice-President Jaramillo were absent. So, 5 more Council Members signed onto the December 28th letter. Those Council Members were: Secretary Verna Teller, Barbara Sanchez, James Abeita, Juan Rey Ashke Abeita and Josephine Padilla. Council Member Fernando Abeita was absent.
Click, Additional Signatories.
The Council then directed the Tribal Sheriff, Benny Piro, to hand-deliver the letter to President Lente and Vice-President Jaramillo. When the Sheriff returned, he reported that the President and Vice-President both refused to honor the Council’s letter.
As a result, the Council decided to replace Michael Allen Lente and they voted in Joseph “Cougar” Lucero as President of the Council.
Governor Eddie Paul Torres along with his Lieutenant Governors were also boycotting the Council’s meetings because they disagreed with the Council’s decision to suspend CEO Pamela Gallegos for two weeks. So, Council Member Phillip Jiron had to open the meeting with the traditional prayer.
Why was President Lente violating the Constitution by refusing to honor the request of 9 Council Members to conduct a meeting?
Because several Council Members wanted to simply terminate Gallegos from her position as CEO of the Isleta Resort and Casino. Other Council Members wanted to extend the suspension of Gallegos to allow the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency to investigate questionable expenditures made by Gallegos. So, President Lente wanted to prevent the Council from either terminating Pamela Gallegos as CEO or ordering an investigation.
Days earlier, President Lente became angry because the Council denied his request to allow Pamela Gallegos to attend a family function at the Casino property. Prior to her suspension, Gallegos had scheduled a personal family event at the Casino.
However, Gallegos was not able to attend the event because of her suspension. So, President Lente asked the Council to make an exception for Gallegos by allowing her to enter onto the Casino property to attend her family event. The Council denied his request because they felt it would be unfair to all other persons including tribal members that have been banned from the Casino property. Persons that have been banned from the Casino property are not allowed back onto the property for any reason.
Since the Council denied the President’s request, Lente told the Council that he was leaving and he walked out of the Council meeting. Vice-President Jaramillo also walked out of the meeting.
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